G4YSS (GQ0OOO/P) Activation of G/NP-009, 01 June 2012
BUCKDEN PIKE G/NP-009.
G4YSS - John (unaccompanied using GQ0OOO/P.)
Multiband: 160-40-30-20-17-4 & 2m.
All times BST (UTC + 1) on 01-06-12 UOS.
MF / HF QRO: IC706-2G, link dipole with loading coils for 160m and adaption for 17m & 10m.
11V, 13.2 Ah Li-Po battery (3 x 4.5 Ah).
VHFM QRP: IC-E90 4-Band VHF. Sotabeam (3-ely) for 2m FM & home-brew half-wave vertical for 4m FM.
The main purpose of this excercise was to air the SSEG special callsign GQ0OOO in celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee.
NP9 (2011) ROUTE:
From the quarry parking place at SD 9455 7996 (413m ASL) the way goes initially up the tarmac, through a gate at SD 9454 8000, across fields then through a second gate at SD 9475 7979. The second gate was locked today. A path across pasture land connects the two.
Follow a poor sort of path via: SD 9479 7975, SD 9486 7977 and SD 9507 7981 (at the latter point it is a quad track). Go up to a wall corner at SD 9516 7975 and then on to SD 9521 7966. Pass through a gateless gap in the wall at SD 9534 7954 and up steep ground to SD 9539 7951. Cross Cow Close Gill beside by the wall at SD 9546 7947, loosing a few metres here.
From the Gill crossing, swing right (south) to pick up the meagre path again at SD 9547 7936 and SD 9551 7933. Less than 300m later this wall-path joins the ‘main drag’ coming up from Cray, at SD 9565 7921. The Cray path now takes you all the way to the top, via SD 9609 7885 in luxurious manner, being fully surfaced and stepped in places. On the way up I saw a dozen or more Lapwings which were wheeling noisily overhead in annoyance at my walking close to their nests.
I left Scarborough at 06:00 for the 81 mile drive to Bishopdale arriving at the start point by 08:03. Hazel & I ‘discovered’ this route (above) last year but it was used by Karen 2E0XYL prior to that. I now have a good set of waypoints which is just as well due to low-cloud right down into Bishopdale.
The elapsed time for the ascent which was started at 08:20 today, was 40 minutes and route distance (one way) is around 2.4km. The required ascent, including reascents of 4m on the way up and the same on the way down, is 297m. For a 6-pointer like NP9, that’s a real bargain. The descent took 30 minutes. In many places, some care is needed on tussock. A few pretty miniature wild flowers were in evidence.
I set up on the west side of the spine wall, south of the east-west running wall. Orange mobile phone coverage is not good on either NP9 or the twin peak of NP8 and my Vodaphone failed to work at all today. O2 is intermittent. Only one group of walkers passed by all day.
BUCKDEN PIKE, G/NP-009, 702m, 6pts, 09:00 to 15:15. 10 Deg.C. Wind NE at less than 10 mph. Overcast with constant low-cloud throughout. One episode of weak sunshine and some drizzle. Intermittent Orange mobile coverage last year. Nil Vodaphone coverage this year. LOC: IO84XE, WAB: SD97.
1.832 CW - 2 QSO’s:
Roy G4SSH was the first to answer me with a 229 report. Phil G4OBK gave me 589 and as is often the case he was well over the nine to me. From Buckden Pike, Roy & Phil’s QTH’s are 105km and 84km respectively, both on a mag bearing of 90 degrees with very little terrain in between. Sadly, Mark G0VOF was at work today and reaching Dublin from here is difficult enough in December let alone June.
145.400 FM - 1 QSO: (also see later)
With no phone coverage, a link with Roy G4SSH (105km) was desireable for spotting. For this I used the IC-E90 with 5 Watts to a vertical Sotabeam, mounted on a short wooden mast, lashed to a fence post and aiming east to Scarborough. Roy was 59 to me but QSB affected my signal to him from 53 down to barely readable. That said, we coped very well throughout the day and most QSY’s were informed via this link.
7.033 CW - 34 QSO’s:
With the output set to 20 Watts and Roy spotting, immediately back came John GQ4WSX. Next in was Mike EI2CL, no doubt disappointed after an attempt on 160m. Kevin G0NUP called in with top reports; in fact my meter read 59 plus 40dB! There were further G’s; some of them GQ’s, sprinkled in with the Europeans as follows: EI, DL, F, HB9, PA, GI, GW & ON.
Much later I overheard Roy & Nick (G4SSH & G4OOE) talking on 2m. Nick was not at home for this session so we set up a quick sked 7.022 after the 20m CW.
7.160, 7.130 & 7.127 SSB - 49 QSO’s:
After asking Roy to alert 7.132, I ‘landed’ on 7.160 which is now in the IC706’s memory. Quickly working down the WAB net gave this session a flying start with six stations logged. A QSY to 7.130 turned out to be a bad move, so after working three stations I nudged down three kHz to find a clear channel, enabling a lot of stations to work me in 60 minutes. It was hard to cope with the pile-up at first but it became gradually manageable. I hope none were kept waiting too long. GW6DTN/M was the only mobile station of the day and Dave was in Tywyn. I did try to call in an ???SR/M at around 1017z but failed to bring him in.
With power set at 40W and later 70W, UK based stations formed the majority of contacts. A glance at the log reveals just one French & one Dutch station. When compared with the last session, this seems to indicate that we favour SSB in the UK, whilst our European friends go for CW. Alternatively, it could simply mean that CW is used for greater distances. Whatever the reason, this 40m SSB-fest was easily the most lucrative of the day.
14.057 CW - 20 QSO’s:
After a talk to G4SSH on 2m and a lunch break, I broke with tradition and migrated to the ‘dizzy heights’ of the 20 metre band. First in at 11:15z and responding to my 20W with a ‘599’ was OM7DX. After a second OM, Phil G4OBK proved the line-of-sight path between us with a 589 report. Thankfully, the pile up wasn’t as deep here. Besides G4OBK, the following entities were worked: OM, HA, OE, EA, YO, S58, OH, HB9, OZ, S51, DL, I2 & OK.
14.265 SSB - 24 QSO’s:
For some reason 50W was used for this. Once again the first station worked was OM7DX. There followed: DL, EA, OE, HA, S56-57-59, IK, OH, SP & HB9. When CW is often used to work into the continent, actually conversing with these overseas stations made for a pleasant change for half an hour or so. Names and QTH’s were forthcoming in many cases. In my experience, this rarely happens on CW as there isn’t sufficient time.
10.118 CW - 3 QSO’s:
With 30 Watts of RF, the following stations were worked on here: EA1DFP, PA0SKP and EA2CJA. I only expected a very few QSO’s. This was simply a ‘courtesy call’ for any ops who had missed me on 40 and 20 and because I had promised it in the alert the night before.
70.425 FM - 4 QSO’s (inc S2S):
Using the IC-E90 4-band handie to a home-brew half-wave vertical, the following local stations were logged: G4UXH Colin - Milnethorpe; G6CRV Dave - Heysham; 2E0MIX/P Derek - S2S on Blake Fell (G/LD-031) and finally M3RDZ Roy - Burnley. The S2S with Derek was kindly set up by Colin. Signals between us were 57 both ways and I think Derek was using a ‘ladder’ aerial, which is I assume is a Slim Jim made from twin feeder.
As I remember it, Derek was also using an IC-E90, which made for almost identical station characteristics at either end. These rigs are really intended as 3-banders but Martin Lynch will add 4m for you before purchase. This is not what the manufacturer intended but it works well despite only running 2 or 3 Watts out past the filters instead of the 5 Watts it manages on 6, 2 & 70cm. It must also be bourne in mind that spurious emissions are only about 30dB down on 4m as against around 50dB for the other bands. Since I always use mine in the ‘middle of nowhere’ the latter is not a thing I allow to trouble me.
18.073 CW - 1 QSO (USA):
This was a thought I’d had the day before but my link dipoles don’t cover the HF bands above 14 MHz so an aerial needed to be created for this band.
One of my SOTA dipoles has break points for the 144 MHz band and it was these that were utilised. The length required was 2 x 3.88m for 17m band. Since the 2m band quarter-wave sections already extend 46cm from the dipole centre, it was just a case of adding 3.42m to each leg and isolating the original legs for 14 MHz and down. In this way a new dipole was created on the same feeder, with the new 17m band dipole hanging just below the original 20m thru 80m one. I have already done this excercise for the 4m & 6m bands.
In fact I added a couple of extra links to give access to the 10m band also. I could have added 21 MHz but at least in theory, the 40m section should already cover that at three lambda by two.
The new dipole was duly set up and given some RF for the first time as there’d been no time to test it at home. VSWR appeared low - a good start but whilst measuring it using 50 watts on a clear QRG, I’d heard the tell-tale signs of low battery Voltage in my headphones. I would be lucky to work one station but what luck followed! Thanks to a spot by G4SSH, I pulled in N4EX in North Carolina. He was quite weak but good for QRP and the band was really quiet. Fortunately with the power down to about 30 watts, the battery held out just long enough to exchange reports at 559/439.
28 MHz CW - Nil QSO’s:
The full 13.2 Ampere-hours was almost used up and the rig cut off abruptly during the first 10 Watt CQ on 28 MHz but not before the VSWR had been proved good. There was only one signal on the band anyway - a callsign something like D2GD and a small pile up to go with it around 28.030.
145.400 FM - 7 QSO’s:
With the HF system unusable, I cleared away all the hardware apart from the Sotabeam and IC-E90. Roy spotted me for 2m FM before having to go out. NP9 is in the ‘far east’ as far as NP’s go and having worked many locals on HF, I didn’t expect many on here. The beam was redirected SW and a 5 Watt CQ put out on S20. The following stations were worked from 13:42 z: 2E0XYL - Karen in Ness; MQ3OUA - Les in Sale; 2E0RWB - Ron in Nelson; G6XBF - Walt in Leeds; M3RDZ - Roy in Burnley; MQ3NHA - Tony in Manchester and finally Tony’s XYL - M6NHA Sara also in Manchester who’d worked me earlier on 40m SSB.
I started down at 15:15, dropping out of the mist at about 600m for the first view of the day and reaching Bishopdale quarry at 15:45. The 81 mile drive home took from 15:50 to 17:58.
NP9 - Buckden Pike: 297m (974ft) ascent / 4.8km (3.0 miles) up/down.
Distance driven: 162 miles.
Battery utilisation: 11V, 13.2 Ah Li-Po - 100% used.
Pack weight: 12 kg.
160m CW: 2
40m CW: 34
40m SSB: 49
20m CW: 20
20m SSB: 24
30m SSB: 3
17m CW: 1
10m CW: Nil
4m FM: 4
2m FM: 8
The low-cloud was supposed to clear by midday. This did not happen until the descent in mid afternoon. There was some light drizzle once or twice but everything was damp all day with droplets on the antenna wire throughout.
There was never the intention to ‘thrash around’ three or four summits today. A long stay on one SOTA was the planned strategy in order to air the GQ clubcall to as many ops as possible. NP9 was selected for its 6-points for chasers. It’s just a two hour drive and an easy walk for me. In the event the plan came good with 145 QSO’s in the log.
After a couple of weeks with 40m not working too well inter-G, band conditions were excellent throughout HF today. Naturally QSO’s on 160m are an even greater challenge in June than in December because by 9:30 am it has been daylight for 4 or 5 hours. The stations worked on there were both more or less on a clear path terrain-wise. 40m SSB and the WAB net really boosted the QSO count and I was told someone had put me on the DX cluster. 20m proved a great haven for further SOTA enthusiasts and the ones who couldn’t hear me on 40 were duly pulled in on there and on 30m too.
The simple ‘last minute’ mod to provide 17m coverage to the link dipole worked perfectly and resulted in what is probably my first Stateside SOTA QSO. 4m FM brought enough QSO’s to qualify the summit on that band and 2m worked well to mop up the final stations at the end and right through the day as an all important link to Roy for spotting. Without this link I would not have made half the QSO’s because I would have run out of time and/ or battery power. The mobile phone failed to work at any time today.
THANKS TO ALL STATIONS WORKED and for spotting: G4SSH, G1PIE, G4OBK, G6CRV, N4EX. 2E0XYL. Thanks to Roy G4SSH for excellent liaison via 2m-FM and 2E0MIX/P for S2S with LD31.
73, John G4YSS.
Using GQ0OOO/P for the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth 2nd.